Malcolm Pein on…Castling and Passed Pawns

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In today’s Daily Telegraph chess column, Malcolm Pein presents a game linking the themes of castling and passed pawns.

The instructive game demonstrates the advantages of both items – and the disadvantages of not only having failed to castle, but also having to face the opponent’s armada of passed pawns.

Malcolm Pein on…Castling and Passed Pawns

I recently gave a game and puzzle where one side established and advanced three connected passed pawns. In another column, we saw the perils of failing to castle. I chanced upon this wonderful game recently, where White fails to castle and Black secures three connected passed pawns. White plays 12 of his first 15 moves with pawns and appears to have a clamp on the position. Black senses he must break the shackles:

Zhang Pengxiang – M. Matlakov

Chinese Team Championship, Harbin, 2016
Nimzo Indian Rubinstein

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Nge2 Re8 6.a3 Bf8 (A canny way of playing. Although this a retreat, Black is well ahead in development should the position open up) 7.e4 d5! 8.e5 Nfd7 9.c5 (9.cxd5 exd5 10.f4 c5 11.Be3 Nc6 intends c5xd4, f7–f6 and maybe even g7–g5 opening up the game) 9…b6 10.b4 a5 11.Rb1 f6! (Three contact points means three open files) 12.f4 axb4 13.axb4 bxc5 14.bxc5 fxe5 15.fxe5 Nc6 16.Be3 Ba6 17.g3

Malcolm Pein on...Castling and Passed Pawns

17…Ncxe5! (In practice, both sacrifices were excellent. For example, 17…Bxc5 18.dxc5 Ndxe5 19.Bg2 Rf8 20.Nb5 Rb8 21.Nbd4 Rxb1 22.Qxb1 Nxd4 23.Bxd4 Nd3+ 24.Kd2 e5) 18.dxe5 Nxe5 19.Nd4 Bxf1 20.Rxf1 Bxc5 21.Nc6 Qd6 (21…Nxc6 22.Bxc5 d4 23.Ne4 Qd5 24.Rf4! is not so clear) 22.Bxc5 Qxc6 23.Bd4 Nd7 24.Rc1 e5 (There will be no stopping these pawns) 25.Bg1 d4 26.Qb3+ Kh8 27.Qb5 Qh6 28.Ne2 Nf6 29.h4 (If 29.Rxc7 Ne4) 29…c5! 30.Qb1 (The pawn is immune. If 30.Qxc5 d3 31.Be3 Qg6; 30.Rxc5 Ne4 31.Rc2 Ra1+) 30…Rad8 (White can only hope to sacrifice back and somehow exchange queens. He is not given an opportunity) 31.Rd1 e4 32.Qc1 e3 33.Qxc5 d3 (33…Ne4 34.Qc4 Qh5 intending Qa5+ was more accurate) 34.Rf3 Rd5 35.Qb6 d2+ 36.Kf1 Qh5 37.Rxe3 Rf5+ 38.Bf2 (If 38.Kg2 Rxe3 39.Qxe3 Re5 40.Rxd2 Rxe3 41.Bxe3 Qe5 42.Bf2 Qe4+)

Test Your Strength

Black to Play and Win

Now, it is Black to play and win.

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

38…Rxf2+ 39.Kxf2 Ng4+ 40.Kg1 Nxe3 41.Rxd2 Qf3 0–1

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